Senior living is about providing a little extra help with day-to-day activities for aging adults.
Personal care is not a nursing home nor an independent living community; it’s the sweet spot right in between. Unlike other types of senior communities, these facilities provide personal attention and peace of mind knowing that help is available when and where you need it most.
Personal Care May Be the Smarter Choice
Personal care services help seniors and other individuals who need assistance with activities of daily life. Generally, personal services refer to physical movement and the body.
It provides assistance for activities throughout the day such as bathing, dressing, eating, showering, toileting, etc.
Personal Care vs Assisted Living
The terms Personal Care and Assisted Living are often used interchangeably; however, they are two very different categories.
While they both provide housing, food, and general assistance, assisted living provides external help with things like transportation, cooking, cleaning, medications, etc., personal care is for more intimate 24-hour or round-the-clock assistance.
Types of Care, Amenities, and Services
Those who benefit from personal care are those who are unable to take care of themselves independently.
The type of services personal care offers is often difficult for family members to do at home because of its intimate nature. This type of specialized care preserves the dignity of the resident and removes the burden from family members.
Help with Bathing, Eating, and Showering: These basic tasks can become cumbersome often leaving the elderly with poor diet and hygiene. Personal care supports the basic needs so each patient can be healthy and clean.
Dressing and Getting Ready for Bed: It can be a struggle to get dressed in the morning or prepare restfully for bed at the end of the day. Personal care ensures each individual is comfortable throughout the day and night.
Foot Care: Clipping toenails, applying lotion, or painting your nails are difficult tasks. These services may include relaxing pedicures. This may also include personalized, specialist care for diabetics as well.
Hair and Beauty: It is important to take pride in your appearance, even if you don’t have the ability or energy to fix your own hair or shave independently. A staff member helps with hair care, styling, makeup, shaving, etc.
Oral Hygiene: Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is essential to minimize infections and stay healthy. A caregiver supports these daily habits.
Applying Creams and Lotions: You may have specialized creams, ointments, or just need help reaching difficult places to stay moisturized. A staff member takes care of your skin from head to toe.
Assisting with Toileting: Professional caregivers are trained to handle all levels of incontinence. Where this is an uncomfortable area for family members, a caregiver is both sensitive, compassionate, and trained to handle this area.
Bed Positioning: For patients who spend a lot of time in bed, a caregiver provides a routine to eliminate infections, bedsores, and encourage mobility stretching.
Clinical Care: Some care items are more medical in nature like changing a catheter or stoma bag. Nurse-led care is available for these areas to ensure all equipment is handled properly.
Transferring To and From Wheelchair: For those who require assistance moving around, trained caregivers can help transfer patients to and from their wheelchairs safely and securely.
When Is It Time to Consider the Move to Personal Care?
We all want our loved ones to be safe, comfortable, and well taken care of. Even well-meaning family members and spouses are often ill-equipped to give their spouses or parents the assistance they need.
Look for these signs that may indicate it is time to look into personal care options in your area.
- Physical Health: Chronic health concerns will often get worse over time. When your loved one needs to visit the doctor more frequently than normal, personal care services may help to maintain a quality standard of living.
- Mental Health: When your loved one is often in an unstable emotional state like becoming confused, sudden anger, lacking social connections and spending most of their time isolated.
- Injuries and Accidents: If your loved one is having repeat accidents, falls, or injuries, it might be time for extra help. Incontinence accidents, falling, or household injuries are often due to old age and are a sign that it may not be safe for them to live on their own anymore.
- ADLs: The six main activities of daily living (ADLs) are bathing, toileting, dressing, feeding, transferring and continence. When someone has trouble with 2 or more activities, senior living facilities should be considered.
- Weight Loss: If they are feeling thinner, or their clothes are baggier, check their cupboards for sufficient food. If they are eating stale, expired, or minimal food, it might be time to give them a home with full meal services available.
- Messy Home: If you notice increasing piles of mail, bills, newspaper, laundry, or clutter around the house it may be a sign that the home has become too much for elderly residents to manage.
- Plants and Pets: Pay attention to plants, pets, or other living things for signs of neglect. If they are neglecting to care for other things, they are likely also neglecting their own basic needs.
Benefits of Personal Care Community
The benefits of these senior living communities can transform the final years of life for anyone who is struggling with daily living. With the support of an attentive staff and a loving peer community, you can enjoy a whole new chapter of possibilities.
- Round-the-Clock Professional Staff: If you live alone, emergency services can take too long to arrive. A professional staff that includes nurses means that you are never more than a few minutes from vital care.
- Maximum Independence: The staff will adjust their level of care to support maximum independence and encourage as much freedom and flexibility as possible.
- Clean and Comfortable Living Space: Home maintenance can be an overwhelming responsibility. Personal care communities give you the luxury of a clean-living space without the responsibility of housework.
- An Engaging Social Life: Living alone is isolating and detrimental to your mental health. These communities provide a social network of individuals and caring staff to keep residents active.
- Gourmet, Restaurant-Style Dining: The chefs within these communities can tailor meals to your tastes or dietary needs while providing delicious variety.
- Personalized Wellness Programs: A wellness program is designed to keep your medications, doctor’s appointments, and disease management organized with the help of licensed nurses available around-the-clock.
- Peace of Mind for Your Loved Ones: Knowing you are taken care of provides peace of mind to your children and grandchildren. Visitors are welcome and encouraged so you can focus on building relationships without the burden of personal care or constantly asking for help.
How to Choose the Right Personal Care Home for Your Loved One
Most family members are not qualified or able to provide full-time assistance for aging parents and grandparents. However, choosing someone else to care for your loved one is a challenge.
Consider the following checklist when searching for the right home.
Costs and Other Charges: You’ll want to know the overall costs as well as what services may incur additional charges throughout the month. Also inquire about payment options, late fees, early termination policies, etc.
Check State Licensing: You want to be sure that the facility is licensed and in good standing with all state regulatory agencies.
Check out Location and Floor Plans: Do you prefer a closed bedroom door or more of a studio apartment style? Will a spouse be staying as well? Look at the layouts and location to ensure the space is adequate.
Types of Activities the Facility Provides: Ask for a recent calendar of events to see what type of activities are provided.
Medication: Be sure that medication is administered by a qualified nurse and ask about policies when medication is refused.
Look For a Clean and Quiet Environment: Visit the facility and look around at the environment. Does it feel peaceful and safe? See if the other residents look to be functioning at a similar level and if the facility is clean and comfortable.
Meal Service: If possible, ask to sample a meal or see a calendar of past meal offerings. Ask about special dietary options and snacks. You may also check to see if meals can be taken at any time or are only available during specific dining hours.
Staffing Options: Be sure the staff includes Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Vocational or Practical Nurses (LVN, LPNs), Personal Care Aides (PCAs), Physical Therapists (PTs).
Cost of a Personal Care Community
The cost of personal care depends on the state and the level of care provided.
In many cases, the cost of a personal care home is often less than both nursing homes and assisted living. The monthly cost may range between $3,500 to $7,500 per month. There may also be financial assistance programs available.
For a more accurate pricing estimate contact Patti Naiser at Senior Home Transitions.
4 Steps to Making the Move Easier for Your Loved One
Most aging adults are hesitant to leave the comfort of the home they’ve lived in for years. Making the move can be hard on the entire family. There are a few things you can do to help make this transition easier.
1. Plan Ahead: This should not be a last-minute decision. Start talking about it early, allow time for everyone to become comfortable with the idea. During this time, start to sort through boxes in the basement, clean out the storage closets, and prepare for the move. Teach your loved one how to use Facetime or texting so they are better prepared to keep in touch with others.
2. Do Some Prep: Create a personalized photo album they can take with them with photos of family and friends. Decide which furniture will fit in their new room. It can also be helpful to create a “get-to-know-you” book to introduce the staff to your loved one and learn about their past, their hobbies, and interests.
3. See the Care Plan: Ask to see the plan and when it will be updated so you can see exactly what care is being given and when. You should be able to view the care plan any time and review changes if necessary. Make your loved one as comfortable as possible by personalizing the room and talking to the caregivers about ways to make them content. Perhaps they’d like a speaker to listen to their favorite music or would prefer to take meals in their room rather than the dining hall. These small, personal things can make the change easier.
4. Use a Community: Seek out other family members in the community who may be experiencing the same feelings and use them for support.
FAQs About Personal Care Homes